The Edmonton Oilers are in the market for a right-shot defenseman and might be willing to part with the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft to get it, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday.
"There's a lot of talk," Chiarelli told the Oilers website. "It's no secret we're in the market for a defenseman and we're fully engaged and we have a pretty high pick. So it's actually been exciting, and it'll ramp up to [Friday]."
Chiarelli did not commit to making a trade to acquire a defenseman during the first round of the draft at First Niagara Center in Buffalo on Friday (7 p.m. ET: NBCSN, Sportsnet). But if nothing develops at the draft, he said he feels confident that at some point this offseason it will happen, whether via a trade or signing an unrestricted free agent.
"The discussions have been both plentiful and productive. I still feel the same confidence, whether it's prior to [Friday], whether it's prior to July 1, whether it's after July 1. If it's [Friday] it's going to involve the pick," Chiarelli said. "I've had discussions that include that pick. We're looking at all the different options; making the pick, trading down, including that pick in a trade for a defenseman. We're looking at all those options, I've had discussions with teams on all those options."
Chiarelli said his preference is to add a defenseman with a right-handed shot to add balance to a blue line heavy on left-handed shots.
But Chiarelli also knows how difficult it is to find a No 1 defenseman in the NHL.
"Over the years I've had discussions on teams I've been with on how many true No 1 [defensemen] are there? Maybe there's 12," he said. "So there's 30 teams and maybe there's 12 No 1 [defensemen]. So to think maybe you'll get a true No 1 [defensemen], it's tough."
Video: DRAFT | Chiarelli 1-on-1
Chiarelli feels the top defense prospects in the draft project as solid No 2 defensemen, though he conceded they may develop into a No 1 down the road.
"I wouldn't say there's a clear-cut No 1 [defenseman]," he said.
Chiarelli said the possibility exists that he could address Edmonton's problems on defense without necessarily giving up the No. 4 pick or one of his talented young forwards. But that would be a short-term solution, and he's not interested in that.
"There are some situations where I think I can provide a temporary fix that might bridge a gap a little bit. I don't know if that's the route we want to go," he said. "I'd like to have a solid defender in there that can play a versatile game, that can play in the top four. It doesn't mean we're going to fix it in one fell swoop either, but I'd like to get some permanence in making the first step to fixing it."
If the Oilers keep the No. 4 pick, which he said has a better than 50 percent chance of happening, Chiarelli is confident he will get a good player even though the selection is outside